Virtual Resort Manager
Virtual Resort Manager (VRM) is a software-development company based in Beaufort, North Carolina. Its mission is to provide excellent vacation-rental management software systems, marketing services, website development and customer support to its expanding client base. The company’s integrated software solution encompasses all aspects of reservations, front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, marketing analysis, financial analysis and record keeping, as well as other back-office management tools. The VRM team takes pride in meeting customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations. To help ensure customers’ software-supported operations are always up and running, VRM offers 24-hour emergency support.
It’s unsurprising that as a software company, VRM focuses most of its IT resources on software development. In 2005, its entire IT workforce comprised software developers, with only one employee designated as the official director of IT support. Working out of what was referred to as a “bunker” in Morehead City, North Carolina, that worker was responsible for keeping the IT systems running that powered the company’s rapidly expanding services.
As VRM’s IT needs grew and the company purchased more equipment, concerns arose about outgrowing the current space. The threat of region-specific weather on the North Carolina coast that could potentially disrupt operations also weighed heavily on the minds of the VRM team. If its systems went down, its clients’ systems would go down. That would be bad for business for everyone—VRM, its clients and its clients’ customers.
First Step: Colocation
Initially, the VRM team decided to house its servers with a colocation company in a nearby city. Within a year that provider made major changes that VRM saw as downgrades to its service, so a search was on for another provider. VRM’s designated IT person met with several vendors, but he liked what he heard from Peak 10, which had a strong record of reliable, secure service and was more consultative than sales-oriented.
Immediately the company moved its servers to a Peak 10 colocation data center in Raleigh, with VRM contracting for colocation, reliable bandwidth and a storage-area network (SAN) solution from Peak 10. Right from the start, the VRM team was impressed by the personal service from Peak 10 and its willingness to work with the company through its growing pains.
“We were able to use Peak 10 as an extension of our internal IT team, providing us a flexible, cost-effective home for our production environment that could easily scale as we have expanded our operations,” said Gavin Hutchins, former information-technology director for VRM. “Outsourcing to Peak 10 freed up our IT professionals to focus on product development, customer satisfaction and growth, and it positioned VRM to take advantage of the business opportunities before us.”
Next Step: The Cloud
Like most companies, VRM was interested in ways to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. With the technologies improving, the company soon found it was able to downsize from two full cabinets to a single cabinet while maintaining the required speed and performance. At the same time, however, VRM’s director of IT had moved to working as a consultant. What if he wasn’t available when VRM needed him? Who else would have the knowledge and expertise to jump in and help? Could the company afford the potential downtime if someone wasn’t immediately available to deal with any issues that arose?
That was two years ago. Following additional conversations with Peak 10, VRM started looking at cloud solutions. Just as technologies had been improving, many of them—including cloud services—had become more cost effective. After evaluating the options, the VRM team determined that moving to the cloud could take care of many of their concerns. From a return on investment (ROI) standpoint, it wouldn’t take long to break even.
There was still the matter of finding the right vendor and cloud solution, however—and making the actual cloud transition. The VRM team knew from previous experience that any major infrastructure change could potentially create panic, confusion and downtime. Just moving from two cabinets to a single cabinet had taken the company offline for three hours.
The Peak 10 Solution
The VRM team did their due diligence and researched a variety of cloud-service providers. In the end, however, the solid relationship it already established with the Peak 10 team made that company the front runner.
“Peak 10 didn’t come in as the highest or the lowest in price, but its team had already proven that they were reliable and would be able to help us make the transition. They also took the time to understand what our goals were and what direction we were taking the company. As they’d done in the past, they offered flexible solutions that could grow with us,” explained Michael Hill, the vice president for software development and assistant general manager for VRM.
The solution included a fully managed, scalable public cloud—audited for compliance with a number of regulatory requirements and robust enough to handle production workloads—o along with a layer of managed security services. The transition to the cloud went smoothly with Peak 10 assisting the VRM team every step of the way.
“The whole process went so well that I was worried something was really wrong,” Michael said. “I expected there to be problems, but Peak 10 handled everything expertly. There was only one small firewall issue and it was quickly rectified.”
With its move to cloud computing, VRM has avoided having to add on-site support to handle its continuously growing IT needs but has been able to take advantage of cost and performance efficiencies. The company’s satisfaction with a public cloud solution also led the VRM team to incorporate a disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solution into their DR plan.
“Before adding the DRaaS solution, we had a 72-hour DR plan. We knew that if we our systems went down but we could get them back up and running in less than 72 hours, we would be heroes as far as our clients were concerned,” Michael explained.
“This solution enables us to do that with rapid recovery times and continuous data protection (CDP) instead of scheduled replication a few times a day to help ensure less data loss in the event of a failure. In addition, Peak 10 has an experienced team of disaster-recovery services specialists available 24/7/365 to monitor data replication or to execute testing and actual recovery processes.”
Michael views Peak 10 as a true partner and appreciates its technical input and advice. He also values the joint technical review (JTR) sessions that Peak 10 conducts with his company twice a year as a way to ensure VRM is receiving the services that best meets its needs at the expected performance level.
“I always leave the JTR meetings with valuable information, just as I do any time I interact with Peak 10’s staff,” Michael said. “Their consultative approach, professionalism and attitude towards customer services are why we will remain a Peak 10 customer for years to come.”
Peace of mind also plays an important role.
“Money was never going to be the problem for us,” Michael explained. “We could get bank loans for whatever solution we decided to pursue. What was and continues to be most important for us is peace of mind. Knowing that I don’t have to scramble to try to figure out what to do when a situation arises takes a lot of the burden off of me. Having worked with Peak 10 for 10 years, I know I can count on them any time, every time.”
- Flexible, scalable public cloud and disaster recovery (DR) solutions
- Consultative partnership and anytime support
- Cost-effective managed security services